In Awe, Again
We've been here before. Kind of. Last year the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants met in primetime for the final game of the regular season. That game was to decide the division winner and get a free trip to the playoffs. The loser got sent home with a kiss from Bob Barker. The Cowboys return to primetime tonight, a year after their last appearance, this time for a do-or-die game against the Washington Redskins.
Personally, I think it's a plot by Jerry Jones to get his team into primetime. Or maybe it's fate making sure we get another opportunity to see the new face of the NFL, Robert Griffin III, in action. It also has a lot to do with the Giants' inability to play consistently for 16 games.
You remember the last time these two teams played each other. It was a Thanksgiving matinee sandwiched between Ndamukong Suh accidentally driving his car into Matt Schaub's nuts and a scheduling error that put a Jets game on Thursday.
In your tryptophan haze that day, you saw RGIII put together one of his masterpieces, throwing four touchdown passes and accumulating 304 yards through the air. Three of his touchdowns came in the second quarter. Washington took a 25-point lead into the half.
True to form, Tony Romo and the Cowboys staged a second-half comeback. They were probably inspired by the halftime performance of child Jimmy Buffet impersonator Kenny Chesney. Romo and Dez Bryant connected for a pair of touchdowns as Dallas went on to score 28 points to give Washington a scare.
It wasn't enough. Dallas had no answers for all that "college stuff," as Jones described Washington's offense. The Cowboys' owner was left in "awe" of RGIII and foreshadowed this week's matchup:
"We've got to play better, and we've got to play this team again, too. And we'll be playing them at their home, and that's gonna be quite a challenge."
That will be a challenge because Washington is rolling right now, winning its last six games by an average of 10 points and scoring more than 30 points in four of those contests. Also working in favor of the Redskins during that stretch is a +7 turnover ratio.
Dallas has won four of its last six games. That stretch includes two wins in overtime, one against the Steelers. Romo has 14 touchdowns and three interceptions through those last six games. Two of his picks came in against Washington.
The Redskins can still back into the playoffs if they lose this game, but it requires a convoluted scenario of other contenders dropping games this week. Dallas has to win if it wants to make its first playoff appearance of Jason Garrett's tenure.
Prediction, Redskins win 31-24
Cast of Characters
Robert Griffin III, Football Jesus
It's anyone's guess as to whether RGIII can actually keep this going for the next 10 years, but the last 16 weeks have been way, waaaaay too perfect, and the only logical conclusion is that we're dealing with some sort of deity here. For God's sake, HE MADE THE REDSKINS NOT TERRIBLE.
Alfred Morris, Superhero
It was only about a month ago that Alfred Morris visited a Children's Hospital dressed as Captain America, and since then he's shown the world his Bentley and continued to be the best rookie running back in football (by far). So yeah, Alfie Mo is pretty great.
DeAngelo Hall, Superhero Part Two
And his superpower is being the worst! He doesn't always do it the same way, but DeAngelo finds a way, always and forever.
Tony Romo, Good?
Tony Romo has thrown 16 touchdowns and just three interceptions in the past seven games, and what's most impressive is how little it changes anything. At best, Cowboys fans can now say, "We have a good quarterback?" before furiously knocking on wood. Given the history here, what would Romo have to do before that became an exclamation point? Play this well for a full year? Two years? Super Bowl win? Probably a Super Bowl win. But not definitely.
Dez Bryant, Hellbeast
He is Grendel from Beowulf, he is the Greek Chimera realized in HD every Sunday, he is an evil version of the cookie monster, and the cookies are touchdowns. Against the current Redskins secondary, he may have 900 yards receiving on Sunday night.
DeMarcus Ware, Hellbeast Part Two
OK, yes, but can he stop Football Jesus?
LOCALE: Washington DC
The Redskins play in "FedEx Field," which is in "Raljon, Maryland." Both were made up and named after insane rich people. FedEx CEO Fred Smith really did once take the company payroll to Vegas when FedEx was short on cash, and Jack Kent Cooke really did make up the municipality of "Raljon" out of the names of his two sons. Kudos to both of these gentlemen on being properly maddened by huge amounts of cash.
That's how to be properly batty-mad wealthy, Dan Snyder. Take notes. By the way, FedEx Field is awful, soulless, and the beer costs too much. You cannot drive to the stadium, or even enter it by foot due to traffic. No one has ever watched a game at FedEx Field, actually: fans caught on camera are CGI or mannequins. Were it not for Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris, the Redskins as a team may not even be said to exist.
What we're saying is don't ever go to FedEx Field, and that Jack Kent Cooke really was an under appreciated crazy person.
Ask the Locals: Skins
This is the Bandwagon Fans' National Convention!!!
Wait what?!?!? The Dallas Cowboys are on national TV in a huge game with playoff implications? Time for Cowboys fans to dust off those brand new Miami Heat hats and New York Yankees pajamas Santa delivered and get ready for the big game. In-game Twitter will just be SO much fun with LeBron James, Saudi Prince Bandar, Jennifer Love Hewett, and Jessica Simpson cheering on the star. Too bad Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, your two fearless leaders, aren't calling the game, but you'll get by.
Can Tony Romo Find a New Way to Choke?
2006 - Botched field goal hold vs Seattle in Wild Card game.
2007 - Divisional playoff game vs. Giants ended with three incompletions and an interception for 21-17 loss.
2008 - Week 14 threw a pick-six with less than two minutes left to lose 20-13 vs. Pittsburgh.
2009 - Lost four out of seven games where Cowgirls were losing by eight points or less in fourth.
2010 - Lost all four games where Cowgirls were losing by eight points or less in the fourth.
2011 - Jets debacle (fumble and interception to Revis): It was the first time Dallas lost a game in which they led by at least 14 points in the fourth quarter.
2011 - They flopped in this week 17 game (same scenario) last year, 31-17 at New York.
2012 prediction: As he's being sacked with 1:00 left, Romo throws a left-handed interception to London Fletcher and Kai Forbath hits a 61-yard field goal to win game.
Ask the Locals: Cowboys
Another Big Game! Unless, of course, it isn't.
Cowboys fans are well aware of the fact that quarterbackTony Romo has never, ever won a big game. Ever. In history. It's impossible. Fait accompli. Hell, some television blowhards (I'm looking at you, Stephen A. Smith) even conveniently pretend like Romo has never even won a single playoff game even though it occurred against a team they covered. Because, hey, nothing beats a good meme. The truth is, Romo has won several big regular season games. Unfortunately as soon as he wins one it automatically, retroactively loses it's big game status.
We're Getting The Band (Aids) Back Together!
The Cowboys have somehow managed to win 5 out of 7 despite the fact that the TV show MASH is suing the club for defamation of character. MASH unit is an understatement; on Sunday, Dallas played most of the game with it's 5th and 9th string inside linebackers (Connor & Poppinga). That's not a typo. Two of three starting defensive linemen are out. Ware is playing one-armed as the other is strained at the shoulder and hyperextended at the elbow. Strong safety? Been gone. Despite the fact that Rob Ryan has never coordinated a top flight security (of the world, Craig!) defense, he'll be pulling off a miracle if he can contain RGIII Sunday night.
Assessing the Bodily Injuries
1. DeMarcus Ware (shoulder, will play)
He's not practicing this week which is usually a huge red flag for a player's availability. But Ware has been battling multiple injuries all season long and hasn't missed a game. No doubt he's playing.
2. Dez Bryant (finger, will play)
This finger could've ended his season. A finger? Really? But he's playing through it. You'll see him on the field on Sunday.
3. RGIII (knee, will play)
RGIII better stay healthy because a lot of fan bases are counting on trading for Kirk Cousins next season.
4. London Fletcher (ankle/old, will play)
Everyone wants London Fletcher on their team. There is a zero percent chance he's missing this game. Old Man Fletcher can still bring it.
Gentlemen, Place Your Bets
Let's Have a Statgasm
In 140-character Conclusion...
DID YOU KNOW: Tony Romo is just 1-5 in win-or-go-home games in Week 17 or the postseason (via ELIAS).
"Way to go Richard Sherman!" - Ryan Braun
Sherman news is a tough break for Cowboys/Redskins winner.
Unclutch, loser Tony Romo with a 70-yard drive inside the two-minute warning to tie it.
Redskins are one of only 5 teams that haven't won a division title since realignment in 2002. The other 4 all have 10+ losses in 2012